I think most moms are aware that after giving birth, one’s body changes. Some things are squishier, some are saggier, some are stretch-markier, and weight is just redistributed in different places. We discuss these things at play dates and validate that “yes we understand that muffin top issue, mom, you are not alone!” Maybe less discussed, but no surprise to anyone, is the body issue of peeing a little bit every time you sneeze or laugh too hard. And the barely talked about at all…except in the closest circle of mommy friends when we are speaking in codes and hushed tones around our children as they play at our ankles…is the sex after the baby.
I listened during these hushed conversations to gain any wisdom I could. I’ve known moms that have lied to their husbands and said the Dr. wanted them to wait a few more weeks to do the deed, I’ve known moms that have been so scared for a surprise pregnancy they waited months to rekindle that flame, and I’ve known moms who couldn’t wait for the doctor’s OK and just pounced on their hubbies!
None of my friends, however, mentioned that they couldn’t physically have sex with their husbands after the baby. So I sat in silence at those play date confessions. Oh sure some said it hurt a little bit or chimed in with the”be sure to have lots of wine before initiating that first romantic gesture!” but no one voiced what I was going through and I was confused. After months of trying to have sex after our baby was born, we couldn’t. It just physically hurt me too much.
And I know what you are thinking….she must have torn a lot during birth and had lots of stitches!
I had a c-section.
So it made the issue even more baffling. A baby didn’t come out of my vagina, so why was it broken?!
We tried the wine, we tried the extra foreplay, we tried different positions, we tried extra lube, we tried different rooms and different times of day and “it” wasn’t happening. And the lack of “it” was taking a toll on our marriage. Newborns make for some tired and emotionally distant parents at times even without sexual problems, so to add that on top of it all, I was kind of a wreck. I kept thinking we had lots of sex in the 4 years before our child so why couldn’t we figure it out now?!
I finally made an appointment with my OB and embarrassingly told her my issue. After a quick exam she diagnosed me with a muscle spasm condition that is very common to women. I already felt better just knowing I wasn’t a freak case! She recommended that I see their amazing physical therapist. Wait, whaaaat?! A physical therapist for vaginas?! Yes. They exist. And I’m so glad they do!
After my first appointment the therapist explained that sometimes women’s muscles can just start spasming down there. My body was basically unknowingly doing kegels 24/7. Because of this I never peed myself when I sneezed, but I also was unable to have sex with my husband. Sure the appointments were a bit awkward at first, and I won’t go into the medical terms or exercises my hubby and I had to practice to get our mojo back, but it worked! (And if you need further proof, another baby came along a few years later!)
My advice after this experience is this:
- Don’t be too embarrassed to talk to your doctor about any issues you have with your body, chances are you aren’t the first to experience it, and often times the answer or cure may not be as hard as you think
- Don’t assume other people’s post baby experiences will be your own. You may pee every time you laugh from now until eternity or you may not. You may have better sex than before the baby or you may have to go to a vagina therapist to get your groove thing back. Each woman is different and while it’s good to share experiences so others can feel less alone, don’t assume your experience will be just like someone else’s.
- Don’t give up. Your sex life will resume one day. It may take weeks, months, or years. The newborn days are a season, the toddler days are a season, the teenage years are a season. With each season come different challanges and your sex life will need to adjust but that doesn’t mean it will go away forever!
Now don’t everybody rush to make appointments all at once! There’s only so many pelvic floor rehab specialists in our city!